Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Phyllis Diller as Rapunzel/Camille Salamander
THE FAT SPY (1966). Director: Joseph Cates.

"After I saw The Fat Spy I went straight to confession -- and I'm not even Catholic." -- Phyllis Diller

George Wellington (Brian Donlevy), the head of a cosmetics firm, and Camille Salamander (Phyllis Diller) are both hoping to get their hands on a fountain of youth formula and are annoyed that a bunch of singing teenagers have taken up residence on the island where the formula might be found. Or something like that. Rarely have there been such films of stark brilliance, comedic genius, and extreme profundity -- and The Fat Spy is certainly not one of them. The movie is a weird combination of Beach Party-spoof, teen musical, and alleged comedy, although it has only a couple of genuinely amusing sequences. In one of these Camille's boyfriend Herman (Jack E. Leonard) sings a funny number, "You Haven't Changed a Bit" ["a peeping tom pulled down the shade"] to her, and the ending is kind of funny, too. Otherwise ... There are some decent tunes warbled by Johnny Tillotson, Jordan Christopher [who later married Sybil Burton] and the Wild Ones, and even Jayne Mansfield, who sings "I'd Like to Be a Rose in Your Garden, but I'm Just a Thorn in Your Side." Diller isn't bad, Donlevy is an old pro, but Leonard isn't much of an actor yet is given two roles to play. Jayne Mansfield has done better work elsewhere, such as an episode on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The film is padded with long sequences of good-looking young people dancing. Cates also directed Who Killed Teddy Bear? and little else of note.

Verdict: Get ready to hit that fast-forward button -- or "stop!": *1/2.

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